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Back to the most original form of flight, a hot air balloon. On an early Sunday morning, 4:30 am to be exact, my husband and I headed out to Napa Valley for my birthday surprise. The sun was not even out yet and we showed up for a hot air balloon ride over the Napa Valley. This one of those “bucket list” things I had always wanted to do.

In Napa Valley, there is often fog that sets in so sometimes you have to switch locations as far as where you can float as the balloon ride is determined by the weather. The main take-off location is in Yountville but if there is weather issues you take off in a vineyard in Pope Valley. The company we flew with was Napa Valley Aloft and they are the only balloon company allowed to ride in Pope Valley which means when there is a weather issue you are not headed to Davis, California like the other competitors, instead you are still floating over vineyards. This is really important to know as when you pay for a “Napa Valley” hot air balloon ride, you want to make sure the backup is still includes sights of vineyards. Our family was friends with the owner so we lucked out that it was this company we went with as when we showed up there was weather issues so we headed to Pope Valley.

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When you get to the balloons, a few are being set up and you watch the balloon get filled up from the flame, these balloons are enormous. In a matter of 5 minutes you are in the basket (max of 10-12 people) and before you realize it, you are off the ground. Tip: where trousers as you have to climb into a quite large basket.

The ride was smooth and the views were stunning. You could see for hundreds of miles, vineyards bright green, and the rolling of the fog over the ridge line. We were up in the air for a little over an hour and the time flew. It was fun to see the other balloon float as well, it was as if the two were dancing together, crossing paths, going over each other simultaneously. The owner of the company flew our balloon and it was great to hear all the history of balloons, how they work and get a real inside view into this form of flight.

Overall the experience was seamless and I would do it again. Flying with Aloft made the float fun, professional and a great memory. A hot air balloon ride is a definite must for a special event, anniversary or birthday.


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  1. We went to the Hot Air Balloon Races in Reno one year. It was amazing. So glad you got to have this experience, and even more glad that you shared it with us. Thank you!

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